The Malaysian government has imprisoned at least 132 illegal invaders from Thailand who have been arrested in a series of immigration police swoops in Kuala Lumpur, and seeks to imprison them for at least six months, local media has reported.
The Bangkok Post said that the Thai Labour Ministry “has warned Thai workers and job brokers against illegal foreign employment after 132 mostly Thai women were arrested by Malaysian police for working at two nightclubs in Kuala Lumpur without work licenses.”
Thai Employment Department chief Waranon Pitiwan was quoted as saying that he wanted Thais to take the warning seriously as the latest alleged wrongdoing has “dealt a great blow to the image of Thailand in Malaysia.”
He vowed to crack down in particular on job brokers who lure prospective workers into foreign employment, usually via social media.
According to the newspaper, the arrests became public when Thirut Suphawibunphon, Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre’s chief of foreign affairs, told the Isra News Agency a Thai diplomat in Kuala Lumpur paid a visit to the 132 suspects who were detained by Malaysian immigration officers in early October.
They were caught while working at two nightclubs in the Malaysian capital, Thirut said. Those in custody are identified as 130 females and two transgenders, all aged between 20 and 30 years old.
The suspects have been charged with working without licenses in Malaysia.
Under a Malaysian law, if found guilty they will face up to six months in jail or a fine of 1,000 Malaysian ringgit, about 7,800 baht, or both.
Many Thai women were found entering Malaysia to secretly work at night entertainment venues. They enter and leave the country every 30 days, Waranon said, and their workplaces are scattered “around the country”, usually in tourist areas.
According to an initial investigation, these women decided to work in the neighbouring country after being lured by brokers via Facebook or other social networking websites.
Stronger law enforcement to curb illegal job brokers is also needed, Waranon said. He has instructed officials to thoroughly check agencies which post such job advertisements on social media.
These brokers will face tough punishments if they are found to be operating outside of the law, he said. They will be sent to prison for between three and 10 years or fined between 60,000 and 200,000 baht.
So far, authorities have already arrested five suspected illegal foreign employment brokers, he added.